Sitting on the beach in Destin, Florida. I’m held hostage by the white sand, blue water, orange juice and sparkling wine.
I did a phone interview for a story my first day here. Since then the beautiful weather and steamed shrimp has stifled any motivation to do more than dig my toes deeper into the refined grains of rock and minerals of the Gulf of Mexico.
I intend to finish three stories while I’m here, but you know what they say about good intentions.
This time last year there was a black hole bleeding approximately 798,000 gallons of toxic Texas tea into the gulf daily. One year later many victims are still waiting for compensation.
Their lawyers say BP has failed to comply with “the letter and spirit” of the U.S. Oil Pollution Act by using “coercive tactics” to force people to accept inadequate payments. They convince the victims that they are only eligible for a small amount of money and they have to sign a full release to receive it. Many have accepted the terms because they can’t afford to wait anymore.
BP set up a $20 billion account to pay victims and damages last year. To date, the company has paid more than 20,000 claimants for a total of $250 million, fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg said. Altogether BP has paid about $4.3 billion in damages.
But the company is doing extremely well financially. They reported a $5.3 billion profit for the second quarter of 2011. It’s a shame the property owners, businesses, and people that live in the Gulf aren’t doing as well as BP is one year after the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
Like the hole that spewed 205 million gallons of oil into the gulf, there is a hole in our system that allows the elite to abuse it. They have the financial means to jockey the courts, destroy environments and ruin lives while making ridiculous profits.
We should slash the red tape of our legal system and use it to bind the hands of giant corporations that use it to exploit the country’s middle and working-classes. Some of these bloated companies would inevitably get tangled and asphyxiate trying to get free. Like animals in an oil spill. But capitalism is survival of the fittest.
This 90 degree heat and cool ocean breeze must be getting to me. I’ll just listen to the waves crash, go back to burying my toes in the sand and consider doing the same with my head. After this mimosa.
Since this got removed from my actual story in print, I will say it here.
Noodling is basically one big ‘That’s What She Said” Joke.
Ah! Ok, I can breathe now.
Seriously though, when I got a hold of the noodlers that fellow intern Zach Gray and I would be following around, I couldn’t even imagine what would be in store for us for the weekend. I’ve been to the Okie Noodling Tournament in Paul’s Valley before, but to now be in cahoots with two guys who are allowing us to go watch the process of catching these river (and lake) monsters, I was more than just your average excited.
Zach and I met Tell and Chris in the parking lot of Mazzio’s Pizza in Stillwater, and we set off toward lake McMurtry in Payne County. Arriving just before 7 p.m., which was the start of the actual alloted time for the tournament, Zach and I climbed into the boat set off with Tell across the lake just as the sun was starting to set.
The actual process of getting in the water with thousands of dollars in camera equipment was much, much trickier.
With no water protective housing to aid us except for a camera that wasn’t producing the pictures Zach wanted, we both used the strategy of keeping one hand dry and praying to God that the tricky lakes of Oklahoma didn’t surprise us with some massive drop off.
Only once did things get hairy and that happened when I tripped over a fishing line that was left from a previous fool… but thankfully I had four feet of monopod to hoist the camera into the air while I took in too large of a gulp of tasty Canadian River.
No fish were caught the first night we went out, which was a real shame as the light was beautiful and the water felt great. Upon our return to shore, we struck up a deal with Tell that we would meet him and Chris the next morning in the hopes that we would find an unlucky fish or two along the Canadian River.
The whole experience was amazing and while I was riding in the boat under a setting sun with way too many people in it, all I could think about was how lucky I am to be in this funny profession of journalism where I can go and hang with guys that just like to have a good time and stick their hands in holes so catfish will bite them… seriously they want to do this!
Noodle on noodlers.
A man named Tim drove me around Piedmont yesterday. We followed the path of the May tornado from east to west by northwest. It was humbling to see the destruction, even two months later.
It was more humbling to hear the story of goodwill from members of the community after the storm. The tornado didn’t just lay waste to lives and homes. It raked across the countryside like an errant plowshare and buried small town politics. If only temporarily.
Earlier this week I surveyed some of the damage alone. The day before I went out there my cousin told me it looked like a scene from “Apocalypse Now,” but I didn’t really believe him.
Some homes were leveled. Many looked like chewed up shoeboxes. One reminded me of a grand piano, with chunks of wall missing and its roof splayed upward like a propped lid. But it wasn’t grand and the only music I could hear was the overbearing wind pushing a storm eastward just south of me.
Three guys were cleaning up the remnants of a home less than a quarter-mile away. They were busting up the foundation with a jackhammer. The driver of the Bobcat would hit the throttle – dumping pressure through the hydraulic lines like adrenaline in the bloodstream – and slam the metal spike into the concrete in rapid bursts. It was destruction razing destruction so that someone can rebuild.
Some residents don’t plan to rebuild.
Tim said construction of one house was completed shortly before the tornado wiped it out.
He told me a story of homeowners who had been fighting with their insurance company for months before the storm. They were uninsured and lost everything.
One house had just been rebuilt from a fire not long before it was demolished by the tornado.
Another house has already been repaired and sold.
Some homes had been relatively new and others had been there for 30 years. One had 12 windows busted out but was otherwise untouched. Others were reduced to twisted metal and piles of bricks and wood scattered across the ground.
The drone of the Bobcat motor and the “pop-pop-pop” of the jackhammer combined with the debris and destruction gave the former neighborhood the semblance of a warzone.
My cousin was right.
This is some of the footage I shot. I will have more video with my story. The structure in the third image used to be a three story house. Check out the last scene of the storm shelter and the storm in the background, there used to be multiple trees and houses behind the now-vacant foundation.
My favorite article this week is by Carrie Coppernoll. It combines some of my favorite things: great writing, bizarre subjects and BACON.
The column is about a bacon festival in Enid that benefits the American Heart Association. Such a great idea.
Check it out Carrie’s article.
This is a great photo from the festival by Nate Billings.
I used to live in California. I worked in a recording studio in San Francisco and played in punk rock bands. We played shows big and small from San Diego to Seattle and Japan.
I’ve wanted to record an album since I was two-years-old. That’s one reason I recorded other people’s music; I was determined to get my name in the liner notes of a record.
Liner notes – such a dated concept, right? Aside from vinyl enthusiasts, who buys physical records anymore?
Apparently more people than I thought, but that number is decreasing.
Fifty-three percent of all music in the U.S was purchased as physical discs and 43 percent of sales were digital downloads during the first quarter of 2011.
Those numbers were 57 percent and 43 percent, respectively, for the same time last year, according to the NPD group. But overall music sales are up for the first time since 2004.
The news isn’t as positive for books.
One report says physical sales were down anywhere from 23 to 42 percent last month, depending on the type of book. Meanwhile, e-book sales were up 157 percent for some companies.
Adult Fiction was hit hardest by e-book sales, according to Publishers Weekly.
Speaking of adults, the average age of a video-gamer is 37-years-old.
A few days ago, I watched my mother play “Bubble Shooter” for an hour on her iPhone. Afterward we discussed her high score at length. My mother joined AARP a few years ago and she never played video games while I was growing up.
Total hardware and software sales for video games are up from last year. Over all sales were almost $6 billion but physical sales of video games are decreasing slightly and downloadable sales are increasing.
Over one million units of “Gears of War 3” have been preordered worldwide and it doesn’t hit the streets until September. In music, Adele’s new album, “21,” is the biggest album of the year; it has sold 2.5 million copies since February.
What does all of this mean? How does all of this affect local businesses?
I’ll answer those questions and more in the story I’m working on.
For the record, my name eventually made it into the liner notes of a few albums as a band member and an engineer.
I’m a quitter.
In the realm of social media, I usually end up forgetting to post and tweet regularly.
I work in waves of activity. One day, at the crest of activity, I tweet and post and blog like a madman. The next day, I’m a ghost.
But those tendencies have dropped off since I joined Google+, Google’s own social networking platform. Right now, Google+ is still in beta testing phase with access granted by invite only. Even so, it is speculated to have more than 10 million users already.
It’s hugely popular with already avid social media users, but it is also gaining momentum for inspiring a new and distinct audience.
1. Privacy: Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Google+ allows users to choose who they share certain content with. In reality, people don’t speak with family the way they do their friends or coworkers. Google+ attempts to simulate that truth and stimulate deep conversations and activity. They do this with their signature feature, Circles.
Circles allows users to sort friends, coworkers, celebrities and whoever else, into any category you wish. You can create as many circles as you want, up to 5000 anyway. All you do is click and drag your list of friends into the circles you create. Simple.
2. Hanging out: Interacting with your friends has never been easier. Over the internet at least. Google+ introduced their hangout feature, which enables circles to video chat with each other, up to 10 users. If one person you are interested in is talking, just mouse over their thumbnail video and it expands above the rest. If nobody strikes your fancy, Google+ takes the liberty of cycling through users every few seconds.
3. Photo sharing: If you are like me, viewing shared photos of friends or colleagues is an important tool in social media.
Facebook has slowly improved their tool. Twitter lacks one all-together. Google+ made leaps and bounds over competition. The photos tab on your main page takes you to a sleek, cleanly designed page.
When you open up an album, the photos appear big and beautiful on the page, a photographer’s dream photo tool. Even in the Stream, Google+’s version of Facebook’s Feed, the photos appear big, with every detail clearly defined.
4. Immediacy: Google was able to take Twitter’s market advantage. Since Twitter publishes every tweet to everyone, information gets lost to viewers who follow a sizable number of accounts. Plus, replies come in a back-and-forth method. Little activity between the audience happens because of the difficulty to keep up with the “who said what to who?” mentality of tweets. Google integrates the immediacy of Twitter with responses in a clean commenting system, like Facebook. But, because all the information is relevant to every Google+ member, more people are inclined to join the conversation and actually see what others are saying, too.
5. Simplicity: The word to describe the entirety of Google+ is simple. Developers took every step to make sure that the program was as simple and clean as possible to use. You’ll be hard pressed to find useless design elements in the system. As of now, Google+ doesn’t feature games or advertisements. That prevents users from being bogged down in the usual insanity that comes along with most social networks.
I’m a simple guy with big expectations. Since I started posting on the site, I realized I was reaching my audiences like never before. I have opportunities to meet others with my interests like never before, and I’m a consistent social media user.
While the program does indeed have flaws, and so much potential to grow, the program has made a serious name for itself. Maybe you’ll get hooked like I did.
I’ve been a recreational reader since kindergarten but I rarely read nonfiction without someone forcing it on me. But earlier this year I turned a new page and started reading nonfiction for personal enjoyment.
The books have been primarily about Oklahoma territory and Native-American history. It started with “Empire of the Summer Moon,” a brutal and thrilling examination of “Comancheria,” Quanah Parker and the Comanche tribe’s forgotten place in the history of the Great Plains. I am familiar with the stories. I grew up hearing and learning about them from every perspective but the book still blew my mind.
I’ve also read “The Way to Rainy Mountain,” a book of stories and poems about the Kiowa tribe and a sacred foothill southeast of Gotebo in Kiowa County. The place was important to the tribe for many reasons but it also served as geographical marker. Before U.S. development, the plains were an amorphous land comparable to an ocean or desert in vastness, danger and navigability.
I used to cut wheat and plow fields at the foot of that landmark when I was a kid. I would commute from Apache via back roads and also use Rainy Mountain as a guide.
Right now I’m reading “Chilocco: Memories of a Native American Boarding School.” The book is about the “Indian Agricultural School” north of Ponca City, just inside the state line. It was open from 1884 to 1980. More than 5,000 students graduated from there and approximately 18,000 students, representing 176 different tribes, walked the massive 8,640 acre campus.
I plan to read “Carbine and Lance: the Story of Old Fort Sill” next. I went to the museum at the military base every year as a child, but I hope to learn something new from the book.
These books and stories like the one on Collings Castle by Derrick Ho and Hannah Rieger, and others I found in the archives have inspired me.
While writing stories for the metro section, the know-it section of Newsok, the forthcoming Yukon Living Guide, and working on stories for the business section, I’ve also been developing a multimedia project that examines endangered historical sites in Oklahoma.
I’m just not sure if I will have time to do them all.
Many of these sites are rural and forgotten. It is sad to see locations rich in historical significance give way to the elements of weather and neglect. Oklahoma City residents had the tax base and common sense to restore Bricktown. However, there is no economic incentive to save many places on the list of the state’s most endangered historic places.
I have five sites selected. I hope to do at least three. Feel free to email me with any suggestions at email@example.com.
Since starting at the Oklahoman one month ago, I have been busy tackling all sorts of stories.
From writing about the documentary made about imprisoned soldier Michael Behenna, to covering the deadCENTER film festival and seeing the crazy awesome Troll Hunter, to traveling to Lone Wolf, Oklahoma and becoming engulfed in the artistic goodness of Quartz Mountain.
But this week especially, the workload has been turned up and the stories are flowing in. I have been writing or working on eight stories this week and I’m absolutely loving every one of them.
One of the week’s highlight was attending the OKC Summer Classic Dog Show on Thursday and getting to interview people who are completely obsessed with their pooch. You have never heard the word bitch used so casually as you do at a dog show.
Slightly unrelated to work but still happened this week was my experience getting to see Doug Benson at the OKC performing arts center. He and Graham Elwood were so stinking funny and the whole atmosphere was pretty spectacular, especially Elwood’s rendition of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.”
I don’t get much of a break for the Fourth of July, but I’m going to make every attempt to blow something up and watch Independence Day. Because nothing says I love America more than Will Smith punching aliens in the dome.
WELCOME TO ERF!!!
Happy Fourth everyone!
Compared to many states in nation Oklahoma is young state. In spite of Oklahoma being relatively young its residents have had cope with many tragedies. As a result, I want discuss the Top 3: Historical Events in Oklahoma.
1. Murrah Federal Bombing April 19, 1995 – Before 9/11 many Americans were too comfortable with the notion terrorism was something that often happened overseas. The aftermath of acts of terrorism were too often only seen through the portrayal of media in nations that were at war or under the leadership of a dictator.The OKC federal bombing had been one of the first major terrorist attacks in the U.S. since Pearl Harbor. And it all too quickly changed the lives of many Oklahomans. Many Oklahomans today still are affected by the aftermath of this terrorist attack.
Video posted by AssociatedPress at youtube.com
2. May 3 Tornado – When an F5 hit Missouri, many Oklahomans already understood what it was like to go through such a severe storm. Several cities in Oklahoma were devastated including areas close to neighborhood I used to live in. Out of this tragedy came so many stories of survival and a sense of what a community is supposed to be.
Video posted by GualdAnubis at youtube.com
3. 2007 ice storm – This is the first time, I truly understood what life would be like without all the modern gadgets and invention we enjoy today. For, at least two days we were without electricity and heat. There were no working phones. And for those who lived in the country and drew water from wells, many did not have running water due to frozen pipes.
video by briandjin2 at youtube.com
Stillwater’s Other Lives apparently impressed Mates of State when they opened for the group during a show in Norman this past spring.
Other Lives is set to open nine shows for the San Francisco native Mates of State, starting with a show in Columbus, Ohio in October.
For a full list of shows with Mates of State, click here.
Those shows will come after the band plays six shows with Indie Folker Bon Iver in September.
Plus, the band made perhaps one of the greatest music videos in the history of music videos that take place in space… (Probably only edged out by Michael Jackson’s Scream video. You just can’t beat Pong in space.)