HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! HERE'S HOPING YOUR 2011 IS GETTING OFF TO A GREAT START! :)
The first blog of the new year is going to focus on the U.S. Military. Before I begin my rant (....errrr, blog) I'll preface this by saying I've NEVER been in the military. BUT, my brother was a reservist who served in Afghanistan. I THANK GOD EVERYDAY he returned safe and sound. When he was called up- I was physically sick. I cried. Imagined the worse case scenarios. Every Afghanistan bombing put me on edge. I know what I went through as a family member, but I can't even imagine what our servicemen & women deal with. If I had to guess- well, I imagine it's what I felt times a BILLION. Okay, that said..
Right now, the captain and crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise is coming underfire for a video they shot back in 2006 & 2007. As of today- Captain Owen Honors is expected to be relieved of his post and reassigned. OKAY, WHY????? From what I've seen of the video, it's a group of folks "cutting up," having fun. It's silly. It's edgy. It's ADULT-humor. Why aren't these people who were/are under a constant stress of war, allowed to "goof off" in their short amount of downtime and have a little fun? ... a chance to forget that they're putting their lives on the line? .. that they could die? ..that their friends and fellow servicemember HAVE died?????? Really, I don't get it. Is *THIS* the *BIGGEST* issue our country's facing????? Realllyyyyyyyy????? (Folks, I'm here to tell you the U.S. has MUCH BIGGER problems!)
Counterpoint- Kim McBroom and Hollani Davis have weighed in. They think it was out of line and inappropriate. (of course when our producer Thom Brewer pointed out that many of our newsroom jokes could be taken out of context - both agreed. Though Kim pointed out we were smart enough not to tape them!!! hahahaha TRUE, TRUE! :)
The ladies make excellent points, and certainly, I DON'T condone racist or sexist behavior or gay bashing. (I can't say these things occurred since I haven't seen the UN-edited version of the tape, but I'm just putting that disclaimer out there.) I guess the bottom-line goes back to something we've talked about before- be careful what you put out there (esp. if it's recorded!) and take into account other people's feelings.
Since I've designated this "the military blog" - might as well talk about the recent repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." I never understood that rule. Did the U.S. military think that gay soldiers would want to dress in pink, with pink neckerchiefs, and sashay around the battlefield????? That's a horrible stereotype. Gay people don't act like that. You would never know most gay people were gay, UNLESS they told you. Oh, and just because someone's gay doesn't mean they're going to attack/hit on/flirt with every available person in their unit. For example, I'm straight. I don't hit on every guy I see!
Just something to ponder...
Anywho, I'm heading out. Have a great day!
And, let's be tolerant of one another- PLEASE! (...or I'll do a blog on you! haha)
Merry belated Christmas!!! And, while I'm at it- Happy Early New Year!
Hope everyone had a great holiday (and hey, if you don't celebrate, I hope you enjoyed a movie & Chinese food! :)
I actually had the week off leading into Christmas. Got a chance to visit former 'DBJ-er Rachel DePompa in Richmond and then made my way to Maryland. Let's just say - I put more than enough miles on my little car! The visit was wonderful, got tons of presents and ate for days - all in all, PERFECT!
All those dreaming of a "white" Christmas were rewarded with just that- the snow started falling in MD early, then tappered off. When I left my parents' in the late afternoon -there was nary a flake. Not the case when I got to the Raphine area of Rockbridge County. The snow was falling and didn't stop. As I traveled through Rockbridge and Botetourt Counties - 81 was so bad I couldn't even see the lines on road (they were snow covered.) I made it home without incident & thankfully didn't see any accidents either.
The storm seemed to disappear fast- at least in Roanoke. But, high winds pushed that snow in Roanoke and Floyd Counties. It's nothing new for the people there. They're used to dealing with high snow drifts blocking the roadways (especially in the Bent Mountain area.) I will say - I saw a constantly stream of plows running through that area, but WOW- if you have a car, I imagine that section of road is a NIGHTMARE!
What else is going on? Well, truthfully- NOTHING. For some reason, this is an especially SLOW time of the year. I think it's because everyone's off. Maybe they're saving all their "new" news for the "new" year? Needless to say, I feel like I'm scrambling to put things together over here! haha
One thing News7 always does is "the top stories of the year." Since we're channel 7, we do "7." They're voted on by reporters and online visitors like you- and then, unveiled each night of the week going into New Year's day. I'll give you a sneak peek (even though today/Tuesday we're only on #5) -Wednesday's story is Aveion Lewis. That's one of the stories I spent a lot of time on this year. Do you remember the case? A Roanoke 2-year-old goes missing. The stepdad claims the child was kidnapped. About a week later, the police say 'dad' admitted there were never any kidnappers, the child was dead long before 911 was ever called. That sweet baby's body was found two-weeks after the initial report went out that he was "kidnapped." DISCARDED. IN A LANDFILL. This is definitely a story that really affected me this year. I talked with that family repeatedly. They told me things on the phone, essentially- things that turned out to be lies. The hardest stories to cover (for me, anyway.. ) are ones where children are hurt or killed. Maybe it's because they're innocent and defenseless. Regardless, I hope that little baby gets more peace in heaven than he ever got here. The wrap up of the case and where it is at this point- airs Wednesday night.
On that note- lets all pledge to be a little nicer to each other in the new year. I think we have it in us.
The focus here in the newsroom - Brittany Mae Smith.
The 12-year-old is missing. Her mother was found dead. Police believe the pre-teen is with her mom's live-in boyfriend, Jeffrey Easley.
As Police Chief Ray Lavinder said in a morning press conference, "they've dropped off the face of the earth."
The last known sighting of the two happened around 8:30 Friday night as they left the Salem Walmart. Mom- Tina Dyer Smith was found dead Monday morning in her Roanoke County home when she didn't report to work.
According to reports, Smith met Easley online this summer. He moved-in in October.
That's what we know for sure. Everything outside of that is conjecture- and boy, there's a lot of that going on. We're hypothesizing, speculating and theorizing over here. Obviously, you won't see that on News7, but believe me -we all have hunches as to what may have happened.
The bottom-line, people aren't always who they say they are. Please be careful who you invite into your life - and thus, your family's life.
That being said, you're asked to alert police if you see a Silver 2005 Dodge Neon with a rear spoiler with VA tags: XKF-2365.
If you have any information about Brittany Smith or Jeff Easley you can e-mail: email@example.com or call Roanoke County Police: 540-562-3265
Here's hoping my next blog details the safe return of this little girl.
The Blog-horich has been a ghost-town lately. Sorry folks. I start a blog, get working on a few stories, and before you know it- my new news is old news. Ahhhhh, anyway, I figured I'd give my old entry some airtime and then move onto "new business"..
(I've been trying out titles, let see how they go this week.. ;) hehe)
Free to be you and me... as long as it's PC
Like a lot of companies - your hometown station is reminding its employees of proper in-house conduct.
No biggie, right? Until you realize I work in a newsroom. I think I've told you some of the intricacies of a newsroom- it's fast paced & usually exciting. Many people are involved in the production before it goes across the airwaves - leaving many chances for mistakes. Tempers can, and do, flare accompanied with all the adult-language that may go with it. Just like many people who work with horrible scenes and can't really process them - there's a different sense of humor that some might view as macabre. The newsroom's NOT for kids, the thin-skinned or those without a sense of humor and the ability to let things roll off their backs.
Of course, I understand why companies do this- they have to cover their proverbial butts. In this highly litigious society, you can't be too careful.
Remember a few years ago when some co-workers were recounting an episode of "Seinfeld," a passing co-worker heard a piece of the conversation and reported them? (this is the type of random tidbit I remember, but then I can remember to pick up my dry cleaning, go figure!) I'm sorry, THAT'S ridiculous to me- REALLLLLYYYYYY??? I completely understand if racist or sexually offensive comments are being made. They shouldn't be. They're wrong. But, in the case of the t.v. show - isn't TOLERANCE a two-way street?
**** since I initially wrote this post, I've attended & survived sensitivity training. I think it would be safe to say I'm back to terrorizing my co-workers. hehe ~sjb :)
But, what about dinner?
Air travelers are getting a bit more than they bargained for... some are getting felt-up (or down) in the name of air safety. Yes, I can hear many of you now, "Susan, what are you talking about?!?!?!" New body scans are becoming the norm at airports across the country. Some folks are saying "no" (the scanner reportedly emits a small dose of radiation.) While that "no" maybe within your rights, be prepared to "yes" to a pat down.
So, what are we dealing with here? The full-body scan reveals an image of what's under the clothes- while the pat down actually touches the body. The scan is viewed in a separate area and results are supposed to be erased (though, federal authorities are investigating a case in Florida where it found that more than 35,000 images were NOT erased.) The outcry concerns privacy and personal space. Some say- 'This is the world we live in. Que Sera, Sera.' Others say 'Enough's enough. I have rights.'
I visited the Roanoke Regional Airport on Tuesday to see where local travelers fall on the issue. (FYI - Roanoke uses an x-ray machine. TSA agents search your bags by hand.) I will tell you- from my random sampling, it seems the women have a bigger problem with it then men. In fact, most of the guys joked- "Ohhhhhh, bring it on!" (sorry fellas, your pat downs are done by a GUY (& ladies by ladies.) One woman was running to avoid her flight, but told me off-camera, "Nobody's touching my tits or a--!" It's a sentiment echoed by many. Many pilots and airline personnel have come out against the scan. And, in fact, since I did the story earlier this week - the TSA has lifted some of the regulations against pilots. Some groups around the nation are calling for passengers to boycott the scans the day before Thanksgiving (as we all know, a super-busy travel day.. )
Ok, we all know since 9-11, air travel has changed. No one wants to be a victim of an air catastrophe or our loved ones to be hurt or killed because of a terrorist. Yes, terrorism is real (and as we saw the other week, alive & well.. ) But, how much is TOO much? I guess my question is more about the people who enforce these rules- the TSA. According to its website, to become a TSA agent you have to possess the following: proof of U.S. citizenship, high school diploma, GED or equivalent; OR At least one year of full-time work experience in security work or aviation screener work; or with x-ray technician work. Is this TOO much power to be putting in these people's hands???
Looking for something to do. I've recently discovered a couple of websites I'm LOVING right now. Thought I'd share- ENJOY! :)
(free food & workout diary. see how many calories you're actually using & eating a day.)
(Seinfeld's wife has short videos how to prepare & serve healthy & easy meals.)
(self-explanatory- COUPONS = saving $$$$ :)
Thanksgiving is on Thursday. Believe me, I know- I'm extremely blessed/lucky/fortunate to have the family I do & that I'll be able to celebrate with them.
Remember even if you don't have the "traditional" situation, family's what you make it! HAPPY THANKSGIVING! :)
BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!!!!
The people have spoken. LOUD AND CLEAR.
We've heard for months, via polls and MOSs (-or "Man On the Street" interviews, aka- regular people's interviews), that people are fed up and feel like their voices are not being heard in Washington. Election Day 2010 - those same people delivered a one-two punch, leaving no doubt about their feelings.
Longtime incumbents, like 9th district Democrat Rick Boucher, fell.
Tuesday, I was covering Republican Morgan Griffith. The atmosphere at the Bristol gathering was party-like (to say the least.) The numbers started coming in soon after the polls closed at 7p.m. ... and once they started, the avalanche was quick and furious.
Many in the media, who had been following the race, thought it would be close, going late into the night- with Boucher eventually coming out on top (hey, he has held off challengers for 28yrs, it wasn't beyond the realm of possibly...) Boy, we couldn't have been more wrong.
The Associated Press called the race early. The excitement that had been simmering under the surface, exploded into a frenzy. By 9:15, Griffith was taking the stage to address the crowd and declare victory.
While it's a party for the supporters, it's a busy and hectic night for reporters. In the early hours (think: News7 at 5 & 6), we're giving viewers an update on the candidate's last minute campaigning, the preps on the party's upcoming celebration (or not) and any upcoming information. Easy, but boring. As the night goes on- things get HOPPING! We're trying to talk to all the players, do live updates on returns and prepare for the later shows (think: My19 at 10 & News7 at 11) Factor into that- technology that can be hit or miss, satellites that are overloaded with reporters around the country trying to do the same things we are... and - it's controlled chaos. Ok- maybe just CHAOS!
I'm not going to lie, I LOVE IT!!!
Yes, I love it. Knowing you cranked it out in a limited amount of time is exciting (haha- welcome to news!) and witnessing a bit of history is a charge. I could be interviewing the next President of the United States!!!! (hey, you never know!)
It's just cool watching the process in action... now, we get to witness what's next!!!
That's the best way to describe this case.
I'm sure that's a common denominator for the friends and family of the defendant and the victim in every court case, but as a spectator, some seem more devastating than others.
In this case, Sam Hale is accused of murdering his best friend, Josh McCoy. The 20-somethings had been BFFs since they were in preschool. They played sports together, went to school together (including college), went to church together, lived together, even worked together... And in January, the young men who were described in court as inseparable, were separated by death.
The two had gone downtown with some friends. Drinks were had. Then, according to court testimony, Josh learned someone had hurt someone close to him and he wanted to settle the score.* He (McCoy) was drunk and angry. Hale told officers he was trying to reason with his friend and stop his roommate from getting behind the wheel of the car.
The first part everyone can pretty much agree on.. Josh McCoy was stabbed in the neck. Sam Hale calls 911 begging for help. A paramedic shows up. He later testifies Josh's breathing was labored - 8 breaths per minute. McCoy is taken to the hospital and eventually pronounced dead. Sam Hale is charged with murder.
But from there- the story gets confusing. In a taped interview- Sam Hale is seen telling police a shard of glass from a window pierced his friend's neck. Hours later, he admits a steak knife he had picked up from the kitchen had done the damage.
Long-short- these families, that used to do things together and be close- have been fractured. There are no winners. One family has lost their son forever. Another, is most likely about to lose their son for decades. Sam Hale faces 20-years to life in prison. But, no sentence or punishment against Hale will bring Josh McCoy back. McCoy will never walk down the aisle with a sweetheart, have babies to carry on the family name or take care of his parents in old age. I'm sure neither of these young men imagined one night would have such an impact on their lives.
A jury is set to decide Hale's fate at the end of the week. News7 will keep you updated. In the meantime, tell your friends and family you love them, you never know how your day will turn out...
*this sentence was intentionally vague to protect the McCoy friend.
Greetings blogging friends!
Not much to report today- except one thing: GNATS. Yes, GNATS! (ok, maybe they're fruit flies, but either way.. ) Turns out one of my colleagues left a banana rotting in a bag under his desk, thus these annoying little flies. Well, to combat this problem- another one of my resourceful co-workers went online to look for a solution- it includes apple cider vinegar. Needless to say, the newsroom is RIPE! :) But, AMAZINGLY- the vinegar seems to be working. I'll let you know how it goes..
Have you been enjoying these great temperatures? You know before too long we'll be breaking out those winter coats and wondering if snow will wreck our plans. :)
So, instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak, some friends & I went to the pumpkin patch this weekend. It was a little nippy, but fun was had by all! (and by the way -at 10-dollars a head, those folks are cleaning up!!! There were 100s of people there- hellloo, agribusiness! :) Anywho, here are some pics from our visit - you might recognize Natasha Ryan and Justin McLeod from here at News7. My fav part- the PUMPKIN BLASTER!!! hahaha AWESOME! :)
Take Care & Be Safe Out there!!!
Have we become a nation of sissies? At the very least, have we become a nation of the hyper-sensitive where any little thing is bound to set us off?
Last week I wrote about bullying. About being sensitive of others' feelings. About being tolerant.
Now, let's flip the coin.
Are we too sensitive? Do we wear our hearts/feelings on our sleeves? Do we need to toughen up?
Just the last week, Anderson Cooper led the charge to pull a movie trailer that used the word "gay." In the trailer, actor Vince Vaughn says to an idea- "that's so gay." GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios says, "The use of the word gay in this trailer as a slur is unnecessary and does nothing more than send a message of intolerance about our community to viewers."
I guess part of me says yes (we're too sensitive), because plenty of people call in asking News7 to do stories on things that may not have been stories 5-years ago.
I was interested in what people thought, so I performed a completely UN-scientific poll of facebook followers. Here's what they said:
Bill: I think the Tea Party and Republicans, with their zero tolerance with race, homosexuals, and the almighty greed, is causing America to become hostile, and mad towards their fellow man.
Lori: I am totally with Bill.. I could not have said it better myself.. Great Job..
Sean: Agrees with Bill, but is going to remove the Republican factor and blame the hostile, ill advised take over of that party by the Tea Party. Hopefully someone will announce last call and closing time to their 'party' sooner rather than later.
Amanda: MORE SENSITIVE and more passive aggressive which only leads to an increase in sensitivity.
Chad: I believe it to be split down the middle. Some are more sensitive and others (agree with Bill) more hostile. Whatever way you have gone its extreme and not a small shift
Jesse: like everything, probably somewhere in the middle
Rick: I'm thinking over sensitive ........ i myself just don't care.
Hmmmmm, so what can we do? I'll be the first to admit I'm not very an overly sensitive person and I can be insensitive on occasion. (I tend to think of it as blatant honesty or being a straight-shooter. I find it's more of a Northern trait.) So maybe I'm not the best person to make suggestions, but I'm open to others'. Any thoughts?
OH, before I leave today- how AMAZING is the Chilean miner rescue???? As I wrap this up- 27 miners have been safely rescued. I was watching as the first miner was rescued last night- and well, truthfully, I BAWLED like a baby!!! :) I'm hoping the remaining 6-miners are rescued without incident :)
Take Care & Be Safe!!
BULLYING. Nothing new. A problem that kids have dealt with, seemingly, since the dawn of time. But, it has taking an extreme new turn with the advent of social networking and texting. Recently, a Rutgers' freshman jumped to his death after prosecutors say two-fellow students recorded him having set with a man and then rebroadcasting it. Local schools are doing what they can to keep the problem from getting to that point, but the fact remains, bullying happens.
In a survey earlier this year, 45% of Roanoke County middle and high school students admitted they had been bullied. The school says guidance counselors & teachers are trained to spot the signs of bullying, but that's not the only thing they're doing to keep the problem in check. There's education for parents & students and this year a new initiative called, "Rachel's Challenge," named for the first victim of the '99 Columbine school shooting. Roanoke City, Salem & Botetourt County schools are also on board.
One of the first things the program pushes is tolerance. Instead of giving someone a first or second chance, give them a 5th or 6th chance.
Some might say,'hey- I've never bullied anyone.' But by just standing by and watching bullying take place, it's just as bad. The program pushes for an end to that bystander-mentality.
I know it has been a while since I've been in high school, but thinking back - I don't remember any real bullying. Does it mean there wasn't any? Definitely not. I do wonder how realistic giving someone 5 or 6 chances really is... Bottomline, we're not all going to like each other. You're not going to like everyone and everyone's not going to like you. But, instead of terrorizing someone, why can't you walk the other way? High school is tough. No one wants to be different. As you grow older, all you want to do is be different! (Ironic, I know!) The hope I can offer the bullied is - it will get better. You'll eventually get out of high school and be able to embrace everything that makes you unique. As for the bullies out there, remember the kid you're picking on today, may be the Bill Gates of tomorrow. And frankly, would you want to be responsible for pushing someone so far they hurt themselves or someone else? - I hope not.
So, here's to a little more patience & acceptance...