Wednesday, November 30, 2005

North Pole

On Black Friday I didn't get to hang out in any malls or on the side of the highway in the cold, but I did get to take a trip with my reporter Caron to the North Pole.

MyTwinn (3)

We found out it's in Blairs, Virginia, just north of Danville about an hour north of Greensboro, just off of Highway 29 on, appropriatley, Toy Lane.

MyTwinn (5)

Inside the Massive warehouse from floor to ceiling are boxes and boxes and stacks and stacks of toys and toys and....even more toys. Everywhere you and people running around on forklifts sorting the toys. Every kind of toy you can imagine is moving around the building on it's way out to a household somewhere in the United States.

MyTwinn (4)

As a distribution warehouse owned by EToys Direct, this is just a holding center for the toys that are being ordered online from not only, but also K-Mart Online, FAO Shwartz, and Sears Wishbook.

About 100,000 toys per day are pulled off these shelves and put on the correct truck for delivery.

MyTwinn (2)

There is one toy that is actually manufactured in this building. The MyTwinn doll has become a hot property in the past couple of years, this year rolling off the production line at the rate of 1000 per day.

MyTwinn (1)

At $140 bucks per doll that's a good bit of dough being pumped into the economy of this region.

The 200 workers on the MyTwinn Doll line and 1800 employees of the warehouse part of the operation surely appreciate the economic stimulation.


Friday, November 25, 2005

Thankful...Even at Work!

My pal Lenslinger is Thankful he's not working this Thankgiving and day after, but due to my untimely regard for proper vacation paperwork, I'm working both Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, giving up my Thanksgiving dinner with my wife, her parents and my sister and brother and law.


But still, I'm thankful. Thankful to be working in a great job. Thankful to have an understanding wife and wonderful kids. Thankful that I get to do stories on Thanksgiving like the one I did today.


My story was about these two cuties' father. He's a soldier in the Army at Fort Bragg and this is the first year in 4 that he's been home for Thanksgiving. Last year he was away at Officer Training School. In 2003 he was in Iraq. In 2002 he was in Afghanistan. So this year is certainly special for his wife and children and the rest of the family.


The only monkey wrench in the whole Thanksgiving Day plan was his unit's Mission status restricting him to within 50 miles of Ft. Bragg, so coming to Greensboro for dinner at his wife's Mom and Dad's was out of the questions.


So Mom and Dad made the 90 minute trip, and so did intrepid reporter Caron Myers and myself. The hook for the story wasn't just that he was home for the Holiday or that he couldn't leave town, but that he invited his whole squad of soldiers to come to his house for Thanksgiving dinner. The soldiers are his extended family and they also couldn't leave town.


A 21 pound turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, ham, pickles, deviled eggs, homeade bread, multiple desserts and 60 minutes of XDCam footage later, Caron and I found our way back to the live truck and began the journey back to High Point with Caron firmly planted in the back seat listening to our interviews and reviewing our footage.


By the time we arrived in High Point at 4:15 we had a 2 minute masterpiece ready to edit and at 6pm my Brother-in-Law, Sister-in-Law, 2 year old niece, 6 week old nephew, Father-in-Law, Mother-in-Law, Wife and 6 other soldiers made their appearance in a great little story we're calling 'A Soldier's Thanksgiving'.

I certainly am Thankful that I was able to spend Thanksgiving Dinner with my Family, even if I did have to eat(while shooting video mind you) and run.

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Black Friday, which I plan to be shopping at bright and early before work!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Rewards and Awards of the Job

Sometimes it's just hard to wipe the grin off my face. I mean look at these old pictures... this has to be the best job in the world. I get to go places and do things and meet people that most people would never have the chance to do.


And then I get to share my experiences with the world through the magic of broadcast. Each and every day is a reward of it's own, especially when I can touch a life or share crucial information.

School Bus

But it's weeks like last week when all the hard work is a group of my peers....and my grin gets bigger.

Early last week I recieved a 3rd place award for an In-Depth Story called Chainsaw Justice in the NPPA's Quarterly Clip Contest for Region 6. This was only my second ever placing in an NPPA Contest, which I consider the hardest to place in, so that made me happy.


And then Friday night I was nomintated for my first ever Emmy Award....twice.

I received 2 Mid-South Region Emmy nominations. One is for the category 'Feature Non-Hard', for a story I did about a group of pre-schoolers watching a Fire Department burn a house for training. The other nomination is in the category 'Camera-News' for my work as a TV Photographer.

Chris and Dale Jarrett

I'm pretty darn happy right now. This is something that's been a goal of mine for a long time.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Spare Time?

Spare time is something I don't have a lot of lately!

Camera and Guy

News doesn't stop and in fact I think it get's busier just when we need it to be slow the most. The cold weather causes the pace of house fires to pick up and for some reason at this time of year it seems like people lose their ability to drive safely.

Live Masts

And then there's sweeps. Four times every year, February, May, July and November, TV stations around the nation gear up with special reports, fancy graphics and marketing schemes to draw attention to their product. All of this to get as many viewers watching as possible so that the advertising rates for the following year can be boosted, or kept steady.

Rolling Billboards (12)

For photographers like me, sweeps means lots of work shooting and producing special stories that are more involved and longer than your typical nightly news story. I have clocked in a lot of overtime since the middle of October working on 4 different stories, two of which have hit the airwaves already. Just last week I capped off a 55 hour week by working a nearly 20 hour day preparing a story to air and shooting high school football.

Football 2

And outside of the news, I have taken on a new responsiblity in my spare time. I have been tapped to be a basketball coach for my son's little league basketball team. I don't know a lot about basketball, but I am planning on staying at a Holiday Inn Express soon, so it shouldn't be a problem. I have 5 'how to coach' books and have found a bunch of web sites that have tips and hints.

We have had one practice and have 3 more before our first game. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Ummmm....I don't know where to start....It's a chrome (the kind in a can from Wal-Mart) bicycle. I saw it at first from a distance. The highly modified, 10 speed in low gear with its pedals spinning at an ultra high pace but the bike barely moving.

Silver Bike

The man riding the bike sauntered into the Greensboro Police Department where we were awaiting an interview with a Lieutenent. Dressed in a 3 piece suit, but not quite ready for church, nice leather shoes, carrying a 3 inch ring binder and a hard hat on his head, painted the same discount chrome.

He looked serious about whatever his objective was. As a lone TV Crew hanging out in a public building we figured we would get an up close with the man in the silver hat, but he strolled by without so much as a look our way.

He wandered around GPD headquarters not really seeming to accomplish anything. One police Lieutenent had a look of great concern about the man but then confessed that it took him back to his childhood, reminding him of the Mr McBeevee episode of 'The Andy Griffith Show'.

It was a truly strange sighting. Unfortunatley no picture of the man.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Rolling Billboards

As a TV News Photojournalist I have the pleasure of driving around town, gathering up all the news the viewers can stand, in a marked up, vinyl lettered, advertising toolbox, that we bottom dwellers like to call 'Rolling Billboards'.

Rolling Billboards (5)

So it's appropriate at certain times of the year when the pretty faces that you see on Fox 8 end up themselves, as 'Rolling Billboards'.

Rolling Billboards (2)

Let me explain the telephone call that I received this morning. While it's not unusual for my wife to call me several times an hour a day, the frenzy in her voice told me I'd better listen.

Rolling Billboards (1)

Seems she had just seen two overtly giant sized, smiling news anchors...the same ones she sees on the 5,6 and 10 o'clock news.

Rolling Billboards (9)

I laughed at her, explaining that I have the same dream about three times a week.

But when she called me back giggling, saying that they had followed her to Wal*Mart, I thought she might be high.

"Honey, that's funny. Are you OK?"

Rolling Billboards (12)

But seriously,I have seen this before. About 4 times a year these funny looking trucks can be found traversing the streets around our TV viewing area, giving drivers quite a shock to see their living room talking buddies in supersize.

Rolling Billboards (13)

The drivers of these Rolling Billboards tell about drivers wandering into their lanes whilst gawking at Nico or Jeff or Julie or Neill. And the kids, they don't quite know what to think, craning their necks to every portal on the car while the the truck is out of site.

Rolling Billboards (14)

As the pilot of the pint sized version of the rolling billboard, often with the real thing on board, I can relate to my wife's frenzied fascination, and the kids starstruck stares, when spotting the Fox 8 truck, whether a real news unit or a real Rolling Billboard.

Rolling Billboards

So now Jeff Varner, Nico Bella and Julie Luck are getting their inaugural rides on the fancified advertising machine.

Rolling Billboards (11)

Coming to a street near you!

Now Playing...

Remember the Superbowl commercial this past February where the girl is 'testifying' in front of the FCC panel pops out of her top?

Yeah that one! Do you remember who the ad was for?

I didn't think so. I, however, do remember.(effective ad, eh?)

It's the web domain name registration service

And NOW, I own the domain name

Earlier this year I purchased a domain name from GoDaddy. went online this past summer with the help of hosting from Go Daddy.

Chris Weaver Casual

Just a week or so ago I bought for a local civic group I have volunteered to do a website for.

And most recently and most importantly, after nagging Lenslinger that he should register his moniker, I have finally registered my blog with it's own unique URL.


OF COURSE, my Blogspot address is still OK to use too.


Friday, November 04, 2005

Terms of Use - Creating Hyperlinks

Every Commercial Website, and most non-commercial websites that I've visited recently have a Terms of Use Page. The link to the hyperlink page is usually in small, microprint near the bottom of the page.

I'm sure each and every one of you have trudged through the legal babble that make up the terms of use. And if you haven't, shame on you, because apparently it's the first thing you are supposed to do when entering a website according to many Terms of Use pages.
Converge Wireless (1)
For Example -

Walt Disney's term's of use pagewhich cover's all of it's TV Stations, ABC, ESPN, etc., says "PLEASE READ THESE TERMS OF USE CAREFULLY BEFORE USING THIS WDIG SITE." There are 4175 words in this whole terms of use document.

There are 3080 words in the KNBC-TV terms of use. It begins with "Your Use of the Service and this Web Site is Governed by These Terms of Use
Please take a few minutes to review the Terms of Use. By accessing and using this Web Site, you agree to be bound by each of the Terms of Use and all applicable laws and regulations governing the Web Site. If you do not agree with any of the Terms of Use, you are not authorized to access or use this Web Site for any purpose.

At CNN dot com's legal page it takes 2814 words to tell you, for instance, that "CNN is a distributor (and not a publisher) of content supplied by third parties and Subscribers. Accordingly, CNN has no more editorial control over such content than does a public library, bookstore, or newsstand."

I feel sure that even if you did go to the terms of use page for curiosity or whatever, that you wouldn't even actually understand what you were reading. I don't, until the 5th or 6th read through. (btw
- any lawyer's reading this can disregard that last sentence per applicable provisions of literary architecture that are not applicable to the legal or contractual nature of this blog.)

One disturbing find I made searching through some of these terms of use pages was the forbidding by at least one company of creating text hyperlinks to any of their companys' websites across many different divisions within the company. Their terms of use ask that you send an e-mail or even write a snail mail letter(on some of their divisions) to a legal department to get permission to create a link to their site.

Since they restrict linking to their sites I just won't say who it is and certainly won't link to this company. I find this policy strange, if not outragous, being that the internet would not be able to sustain without linking. It's also odd that the company with this policy has recently bought up a bunch of internet based media properties. I can't imagine a situation in which they could handle every request for a link approval.

It's kind of like if McDonald's made the terms of eating a Big-Mac that you not tell anyone the locations of their restaurants.

I did manage to find some legal precedent to this denial of hyperlinking.

The American Library Association likens hyperlinks to the the Dewey Decimal System for catologing books. It's not an infringment on the book to tell the public where the book is. The linked article notes a case from 1997 where, "in an opinion striking down a Georgia Internet statute, a federal district judge suggested that the practice of linking is protected by the First Amendment."

But the article also warns of "deep-linking" past the front pages of websites to a specific place on a website. The home page of the website may have advertisements that could be inadvertantly bypassed by the deep-link.

Poznak Law dot com tells of how Microsoft settled out of court with Ticketmaster for deep-linking past the Ticketmaster home page.

It boils down to not infringing on copyrighted images, not plagerizing another site's materials, not linking another site in a defamatory manner. A simple hypertext link to another website is not something that it going to generally get you into hot water.

Any way, all this talk of Terms of use has prompted me to create my own terms of use page which you can find here.

Don't forget to read it in full! There are only 2659 words in it. Feel free not to understand until you've read it over 20 times.

(There are 748 words in this blog post!)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Guilford County Jail

What does Guilford County need to do to resolve the overcrowding problem at it's jail?

According to a letter sent to the county be the State of NC jail inspector- Something, within 30 days or the state will step in...and could take over OR EVEN close down the jail.

Guilf Co Jail (3)

Without directly saying, "I told you so!", BJ Barnes reminded the commissioners he's been harping on the overcrowded conditions at the jail for 11 years.

Guilf Co Jail (2) Guilf Co Jail

County Commissioner Bruce Davis also seems to have decided that a jail has to be built. He aknowledged that something has to be done, and in his opinion, it's just a matter of choosing one of the several plans that the county paid a consultant almost $200,000 to conger up.

Guilf Co Jail (1)

Davis' main concern is making sure the taxpayers of Guilford County want to pay the bill. He says the county can come up with the money, whether it's through tax hikes or bond referendums.

Guilf Co Jail (4)

Barnes, trying not to let out a grin, knows he may now be several steps closer to getting that new jail. That or the current one will be shut down and all the Guilford inmates will be housed in other counties. Guilford might need higher taxes and bond money just for that.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Digital TV Tower

You may have noticed an addition to the skyline of TV Towers in Randolph County.

WGHP Digital Tower

WGHP-TV-DT is building a new TV Tower in Randolph County to go full power with a digital signal in the near future.

WGHP Digital Tower WGHP Digital Tower (1) WGHP Digital Tower (3) WGHP Digital Tower (7) WGHP Digital Tower (6)

Fox 8 has been on the air now digitally via a low power transmitter and on digital cable for a while. But with the new tower, which will carry two antennas, WGHP will transmit a full power digital signal from one antenna and the channel 8 analog signal from another antenna.

WGHP Digital Tower (2)

Caron Myers and I stopped by the site on Monday so we could crane our necks skyward, gawk at the site an get an impromptu degree in Television engineering from transmitter engineer and HMFIC of the transmitter site, Charlie Layno.

WGHP Digital Tower (9)

I can't wait until I can get an HD set so I can watch NASCAR on Fox in High Definition!!!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Tracking down a Story

We were down by the Yadkin River today in a remote section of Davie County on the story you probably heard about. It seems that Duke Power is inching ever closer to ending their 30 year search for a location to build a Nuclear Power Plant in this region.

Some Reports suggest that the plant could be in Stokes County on Belews Creek adjacent to the Coal Burning plant and although published reports say that Duke Power wouldn't confirm that suggestion, they did confirm today that a Nuclear Plant will NOT be built on Belews Creek. They underlined, CAPITALIZED and BOLD FACED the NOT on their statement.

Davie County, on the other hand, is on Duke Power's list of places to put the plant. They own 1600 acres land along the Yadkin River that is currently leased to several farmers and set up as a Wildlife Refuge by the State of NC.

After spending a better part of the day gathering our usual neighborhood reaction from a selection of nearby property owners and getting footage of the perimeters of the property it was time to head out to a location by the river nearest to the Duke Property.

Davie County Animal Prints (2)

That's where Caron and I met up with Joe McCloskey, part time Sat Truck Driver, full time Photojournalist.(except for when his gear is locked in his news unit at a service center that won't be open for 2 days.)

Davie County Animal Prints (3)

So today, Joe is our guy to get us on the air. Driving the Santa Maria to the far reaches of Davie County to digitally impress our images into the sky.

Davie County Animal Prints

When we walked down to the river to survey our live shot location we spotted what you see in the pictures. Animal Tracks. Several different kinds.

Davie County Animal Prints (1)

We threw out our best guesses about the large ones next to Joe's Fist. We were thinking maybe bear, based on one of the neigbors telling us about seeing bears in the area. But after looking on the internet, I can see that these large ones are Canine tracks. Probably not dogs since there aren't any houses for miles of there. These large tracks match up really well against the Coyote tracks which also have been reported in this area.

Davie County Animal Prints (7)

These smaller tracks in the above picture are two different animals. The one on the left is a racoon track, but I can't find a match for the two tracks to the right.

Davie County Animal Prints (6)

The above is a wider view of the racoon and unknown tracks to the left and another type of track to the right side of the picture.

Davie County Animal Prints (5)

This one (above) is another raccon and smaller version of the possible coyote track, indicating more than one coyote on the scene.

Davie County Animal Prints (4)

This is another set of the Coyote tracks that are a bit deeper and more defined.

Davie County Animal Prints (9)

And then we went live. Despite our facination with all the wildlife tracks we still made our slot on the evening news. I might have to go back down there and check out those tracks again one day.